By a quirk and gift of the calendar, this year is one of those comparatively rare ones in which there is a week in-between the Sunday after Thanksgiving and the First Sunday of Advent. That extra week doesn’t eliminate but it does temper just a bit the scrambling toward Hanging of the Green, the fine-tuning and final rehearsing of musicians for the extra gifts they’ll share in worship over the next several weeks, the gathering for parties, and the carrying-out of local mission projects.

It’s a kind of liminal week, a pause at the end of one liturgical year and the beginning of another, a chance to linger at the threshold between what has been and what will be, and a time for both appreciation and anticipation. For most church leaders, there certainly isn’t time for a retreat, but I’m attempting to protect some time during this slight slowing of the swirl to reflect on a few questions:

  • How can a deeper and more expansive practice of gratitude continue to cast-out the myth of scarcity and replace it with the truth of divine abundance? How would greater trust in abundance increase both contentment and generosity?
  • In what ways do I need to awaken during the Advent season? In what ways have I fallen asleep to my own life? How have I become sluggish about my opportunities and responsibilities or lethargic about life-giving practices and disciplines? Paradoxical as it might sound, how would more rest and play make me more awake to, and engaged in, the work to which I’m called?
  • How can I wisely prepare for a rebirth of Jesus within me?

During this kind-of liminal time, I’m pondering words from the First Letter of Peter: “Although you have not seen Jesus, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8-9). Those words bring tears to my eyes and whispers of hope to my heart. I don’t see Jesus with my sight, but I’m praying for greater insight into his presence. I want, now and in the days ahead, to grow in my love for him and in my love for what he loves. Just naming that desire and, in these few in-between days, making plans to honor it, causes joy—”indescribable and glorious joy”—to rise along with my tears.